ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday criticized judges who granted mitigating circumstances to murderers of women on the grounds they were blinded by jealousy or disappointment.
Domestic violence is recognized as a serious problem in Italy, and this month two sentence reductions sparked outrage because judges cited the hurt feelings of men who had killed their wives or girlfriends.
An appeals court in Bologna halved to 16 years the original sentence of a man who strangled his partner in 2016 gripped by what a court psychiatrist said was “an emotional and passionate storm”.
The killer had found messages from other men on his partner’s phone and she told him she wanted to end their relationship.
In another case in Genoa, a man who stabbed his wife to death was given 16 years, rather than the 30 years requested by prosecutors, with the judge saying the murderer was driven by “anger and desperation, deep disappointment and resentment”.
The man had discovered his wife had not left her lover as she had promised.
With women’s rights advocates up in arms, Conte, a trained lawyer, stepped into the debate with a post on Facebook saying that while judges must remain independent, such cases raised cultural issues he felt bound to comment on.
“We must clarify with force that NO EMOTIONAL REACTION, NO FEELINGS, HOWEVER INTENSE, can justify or mitigate the gravity of femicide,” he wrote, using capital letters to ram home the message.
In another contested ruling whose reasons were made public this month, an appeals court in Ancona overturned a rape conviction noting that the two suspects had found the victim too unattractive and “masculine” to want to rape her.
Conte, who is not a member of either of the two ruling parties — the rightist League and the populist 5-Star Movement — said Italy must achieve a “cultural revolution” in its attitudes to women in order to build “a better society”.
Thug Neil Acourt, 43, will be released on Monday — with the nation in the grip of a bloody blades crisis — after serving less than half of a six-year drugs sentence.
Stephen was stabbed in a racist attack in Eltham, South East London, in 1993.
Last night a source said: “The timing of Acourt’s release back into society couldn’t be worse.”
Acourt is being prepared for freedom — by working as a cook in a canteen.
The racist thug was once filmed threatening to “chop up n***ers” while miming a stabbing action with a kitchen knife.
Acourt has been prepping food in a canteen four days a week while on day release from jail.
Photos show him stirring a pot on a stove and serving grub — although sources last night claimed his duties were mainly limited to “food presentation”.
He works closely with at least one other colleague in the open kitchen and was understood to use his mother’s maiden name, Stuart, to disguise his identity. It was unclear if “colleagues” know his real name.
Acourt, of Eltham, South East London, was jailed for six years in February 2017 for his role in a £4million cannabis ring plot.
He spent a year on remand and is being freed on licence after two years of his sentence.
His release comes as police and politicians face a surge in knife crime. There have been at least 27 knife murders in the UK so far this year.
Last night a source said: “You’ve got people dying from knife crime all over the country and suddenly one of the Stephen Lawrence stab gang is released back on to the streets.”
Acourt — who police believe led the “Firm” that murdered Step- hen, 18, at a bus stop in Eltham — works at a conference centre open to the public.
The centre, which we are not naming for security reasons, recently hosted a “Black History Month” event to “celebrate the achievements of Black and Ethnic minority groups”.
Dad-of-one Acourt is being held at Hollesley Bay open jail near Woodbridge, Suffolk, ahead of his release. He was accused of Stephen’s murder but charges were dropped because of lack of evidence in 1993.
VILE RACIAL HATRED
In 1994 cops covertly filmed him spouting vile racial hatred with fellow gang member Luke Knight.
He was filmed saying: “I reckon every n***er should be chopped up, mate, and should be left with nothing but f****** stumps.” Last December his brother, Jamie, 42, got nine years over the cannabis plot after going on the run.
Two members of the gang suspected of murdering Stephen have been brought to justice. Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted and jailed for life in 2012.
The Acourts, Knight, Dobson and Norris were pelted with eggs in 1998 after a public inquiry into police handling of the case.
The Prison Service said: “No offenders are let out to work on day release until they have undergone a thorough risk assessment. They are subject to strict conditions.”
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Police in Florida have arrested a 28-year-old mother who allegedly fatally stabbed her 11-year-old daughter before driving her body to the hospital.
PEOPLE obtained a statement from the Orange County Sheriff’s office confirming the allegations against Rosa Rivera.
Online records confirm Rivera remains in police custody without bond. She has yet to plead to the first-degree murder charge she faces, and it was unclear Monday if she had retained an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office alleges Rivera drove up to the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, Florida, Sunday morning with her daughter’s dead body.
WESH2 reports she was apprehended at the hospital by Orlando police officers.
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She initially drove up to the hospital’s valet stand, asking for medical help, according to the station.
The girl, identified by WESH2 as Aleyda Rivera, had died from multiple stab wounds.
Police allege that Rivera became “argumentative” and “produced a knife” when officers informed her Aleyda was dead, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
The hospital was locked down for a short period after the incident.
Police have yet to discuss a possible motive and have not said when the fatal stabbing occurred.
Emanuela Orlandi, 15, whose father worked for the Catholic church in the city-state, vanished on her way home from a flute lesson in June 1983.
Her disappearance has sparked numerous conspiracy theories including a plot to kill Pope John Paul II, the collapse of a Vatican bank, the Mafia and the intelligence services.
This week, it emerged her family received an anonymous letter that claims the schoolgirl is buried in a tomb in the Teutonic Cemetery – which is reserved for German, Austrian, Dutch and Flemish Catholics.
Above the tomb is a statue of an angel which points down towards the ground.
The tip-off says: “Look where the angel is pointing.”
Her family have demanded the Vatican open the tomb and investigate the records relating to the cemetery.
Look where the angel is pointing
The area became dedicated to German speakers during the 15th century.
According to newspaper Corriere della Sera, tests show the tomb has been opened at least once in the past.
In a letter to the Vatican, the family’s lawyer Laura Sgrò said: “Some people knew there was a chance Emanuela Orlandi’s body had been hidden in the German cemetery.”
She added that flowers had been left at the tomb regularly “for some years.”
Vatican bosses say they are considering the request.
What happened to Emanuela?
Emanuela, who lived inside the Vatican City, was last seen at a bus stop talking to woman with red hair on June 22, 1983.
On her way to her lesson, the teenager was stopped by a man in a green BMW who tried to sell her Avon cosmetics.
Emanuela was so troubled by that encounter that she called one of her sisters.
She was due to meet another of her siblings after her lesson but never turned up.
Spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the letter has been received and passed to the church’s Secretary of State while adding that the request “will be studied.”
Emanuela’s family hope that Pope Francis will open up the church’s files into the investigation of the girl’s disappearance.
This is in light of the Pontiff announcing he will release archives relating to the Pope Pius XII who allegedly failed to speak out against the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis in WWII.
FAMILY WANT POPE INTERVENTION
Lawyer Ms Sgrò said: “Seeing as the Pope has decided to open the Vatican archives for the pontificate of Pius XII in 2020, we make an appeal to the pontiff to give us access to the dossier that regards the investigation into the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi.
“Francis must clarify this deeply shadowy story as well.”
In October, her family were given a glimmer of hope when workmen found a skeleton beneath the foundations of the Vatican’s embassy to Italy.
But tests later proved that the remains did not belong to Emanuela.
In 2012, cops exhumed the body of an alleged Mafioso in the hopes of finding Emanuela’s remains buried in the same crypt, but came up empty handed.
Another theory links her alleged kidnapping to the attempted assaintion of Pope John Paul II in 1981.
It is thought she may have been snatched from the streets of the Vatican to force the release of Mehmet Ali Agca – the Turkish national who tried to murder the Pontiff.
According to Baltimore County investigators, a 52-year-old man and his 28-year-old daughter allegedly concocted a tale about the Dec. 1, 2018, killing of Jacquelyn Smith, telling police she was stabbed to death while trying to give money to a panhandling couple who looked like they had a baby.
Three months later, the father and daughter are now under arrest.
PEOPLE confirms that Keith Smith and his daughter, Valerie Smith, were apprehended on Sunday in Texas, and that both are charged with first-degree murder. Authorities told the Baltimore Sun the pair were headed for the Mexican border when they were detained.
Keith and Valerie Smith have yet to appear before a judge to enter pleas, and it was unclear Monday if either had retained an attorney who could comment on their behalf.
In a statement to the media, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh called the killing of Smith, an electrical engineer, a “double tragedy,” given the new allegations that “family members staged” her homicide.
Officials are not discussing a motive for the killing but say evidence suggests the purported panhandling woman holding what appeared to be a baby, wielding a sign that read “Help me feed my baby,” was allegedly invented by the father and daughter, as was the man they claimed stabbed Smith to death.
After the killing, Keith Smith spoke to local media, saying Jacquelyn asked him to pull over so that she could give the young woman $10. He also claimed the baby she looked like she was holding was fake.
“It was drizzling, it was cold, wet and my wife, like any normal person, felt sorry for the baby, which turned out not to even be a baby,” he told ABC News. “It must have been like a stuffed animal or something wrapped in a blanket. From where we were, it looked like a baby and we thought it was a baby.”
He told ABC News the man he alleged killed his wife approached the car as she was handing the money to the woman.
“The guy came to say ‘Thank you,’ and the woman was saying ‘God bless you. God bless you,’” Kevin said. “While we’re looking at her saying ‘God bless you’ and my wife was handing her the money, he came over to the car and said, ‘Thank you’ and then he started stabbing my wife and snatched her necklace off and ran.”
The man also stole her purse, Smith claimed.
The couple were married for five years.
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In a different interview after the killing, with local NBC affiliate WBAL, Smith announced that he was planning to push for a legislation that would ban Baltimore’s “epidemic” of panhandlers.
“I’m gonna let the world know my wife didn’t die in vain,” he said. “I see it everywhere I go. Sometimes people get violent when you don’t want to give.”
Yousef Makki, 17, was stabbed to death in Hale, Cheshire – hours after Jodie Chesney — a girl the same age — was fatally knifed in Essex.
Straight-A student Yousef, said to be on a scholarship at elite £12,570-a-year Manchester Grammar School, died following a row over a drug debt.
Two 17-year-old boys have been arrested on suspicion of murder.
They are both said to be pupils at top schools in the North West and live in multi-million pound mansions in the area, the Daily Mail reports.
The plush village of Hale is also home to Manchester United stars Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelöf and Fred, with houses fetching up to £5million.
Pals say Yousef dreamed of being a heart surgeon. A source said: “He got in with the wrong crowd. They fell out over weed. It’s such a waste.”
Twelve police cars and two private security firms raced to the scene at 6.40pm on Saturday.
They found Yousef, originally from Lebanon, with serious injuries. He died in hospital.
Grim 2019 death toll hits 21
THE killings of Jodie Chesney and Yousef Makki mean there have been at least 21 fatal stabbings in Britain in 2019. The youngest victim — Jaden Moodie — was just 14 when he was killed in East London in January.
JAN 1: Tudor Simionov, 33, in Park Lane, Mayfair, London; Charlotte Huggins, 33, in Camberwell, South London
JAN 4: Lee Pomeroy, 51, on train near Horsley, Surrey
JAN 8: Jaden Moodie, 14, pictured, in Leyton, East London
JAN 27: Kamil Malysz, 34, in Acton, West London
JAN 29: Nedim Bilgin, 17, in Islington, North London; Lajean Richards, 19, in Battersea, South London
FEB 8: Aliny Mendes, 39, in Cheam, Surrey
FEB 10: Dennis Anderson, 39, in East Dulwich, South London
FEB 17: Mohammed Sidali, 16, in Highgate, Birmingham
FEB 18: Bright Akinleye, 22, in Euston, London
FEB 20: Abdullah Muhammad, 16, in Small Heath, Birmingham
FEB 21: Glendon Spence, 23, in Brixton, North London
FEB 23: Kamali Gabbidon-Lynck, 19, in Wood Green, North London; Phillip Rooney, 32, in Leigh, near Wigan
FEB 25: David Lopez- Fernandez, 38, in Bethnal Green, East London; Connor Brown, 18, in Sunderland; Hazrat Umar, 17, in Bordesley Green, Birmingham
MAR 1: Jodie Chesney, 17, in Romford, Essex
MAR 2: Yousef Ghaleb Makki, 17, in Hale Barns, Gtr Manchester; woman, 50, in Barnet, North London
HIGH FLYER AT ELITE SCHOOL
A witness said: “The boy was leaning up against a tree. It’s just horrendous.” Officers were last night comforting Yousef’s heartbroken mum Deborah, 54.
A neighbour at their home in Withington, eight miles away, said: “Yousef didn’t have a bad bone in his body. He could’ve been someone.
He got in with the wrong crowd. It's such a waste.
“It’s just a shame for a young lad with so much potential to have his life taken so young.”
Pal Ayla Oglu wrote online: “He was such a good lad, clever and caring. He could have gone to the best universities. Why did it have to end like that?”
Cops set up tents between homes.
Hale Barns is one of the most expensive areas outside London.
Man City’s Vincent Kompany and cricket hero Andrew Flintoff are locals. Man U boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was seen there last week. Ex-Manchester Grammar pupils include actor Sir Ben Kingsley, ex-England cricket captain Mike Atherton, comedian Chris Addison and BBC journalist Faisal Islam.
Wayne Rooney’s eldest son Kai, nine, attended in 2017 before the star moved his family to the US.
Det Supt Phil Reade said Greater Manchester Police remain open- minded about the attack. It is not thought to be gang-related.
A man in his 30s was arrested in connection with two stabbings in London yesterday. Cops were called to a boy, 16, knifed in Camden at 11.36am, and a man, 37, attacked in Soho at 6am. Both had life-threatening injuries. A woman in her 40s was being quizzed over the Soho attack.
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A teenage boy is said to be "in pieces" after his 17-year-old girlfriend was knifed to death in front of him in a children’s play area.
Jodie Chesney died as a result of her injuries following the attack in Howard Hill, Havering on Friday night.
The A-level student was the victim of an apparent random attack and her boyfriend Eddie Coyle "did all he could" to save her after she was stabbed so hard the blade broke.
Last night Jodie, who was a Girl Scout, was described as "bright and lovely" by her pals as her parents and sister, 21, were comforted by relatives.
The partner of Eddie’s mother Cylla said the teen is "in pieces" over the tragic incident.
"We all are, Jodie was the nicest, loveliest, kindest person you could meet with everything to look forward to in life," he told the Mail on Sunday.
"I don’t know how long it will take for Eddie to come back from this. To have to witness what he did is devastating. I can’t even begin to imagine what he’s going through.
"His mum is heartbroken and right now we just want to do everything we can to help him. These are just kids we’re talking about, this should not be happening to them."
As tributes were paid to the teen it emerged Jodie was involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and took part in the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall last November.
She had also been pictured at Number 10 during a visit to Downing Street.
Jodie’s gran Debbie Chesney posted a heartbreaking message on Facebook writing: "This was our youngest granddaughter. How have we come to this point where kids can’t have a walk in a park without suffering an unprovoked attack?
"If anyone knows anything about this please contact the police with information.
"We don’t want anyone else to go through what our family is suffering right now.
"This has to stop, there are too many young people having their lives cut short by needless violence."
One sobbing girl said today: “She was just the most happy person, she never stopped smiling.
"She was studying psychology and sociology but I think she still didn’t know what she wanted to be when she was older.”
An 18-year-old lad added: “She was just such a nice person, she never even had arguments with anybody.”
Mum-of-three Teresa Farenden, 49, and her pal Kelly Smith, 36, ran to the park to try and save Jodie after Teresa’s son heard shouting and screaming.
Teresa said: "It is so traumatic – she is not going to have any children, she is not going to get married – it has all been taken away.
"She was such an attractive girl and her boyfriend was a lovely looking lad."
When the two women entered the park, they found the victim lying on her back and moaning with her boyfriend by her side.
They put her in the recovery position, tried CPR and called for an ambulance – but said she died shortly after paramedics arrived at the scene in Amy’s Play Site in Harold Hill, Havering, on Friday.
She was pronounced dead at 10.26pm.
Teresa said: “People are scared to help, but all I was thinking with my mother’s instinct was ‘I need to help’.
"Her boyfriend did everything he could. When I came over she was on her back so I moved her onto her side.
"Then the boyfriend’s friend came over with some kitchen roll.
"Then there was another girl and a man came over in a van to help and took his coat off to keep it on the wound and keep it compressed as much as they could.
"I think he was the dad of one of the boyfriend’s friends.
"I was just trying to keep her legs in the recovery position because she was heavy, like a dead weight.
"Just as the ambulance crew turned up, she had gone. It was devastating."
Teresa continued: "It just seems so random; it must’ve been horrific for her boyfriend and those other young people there to experience.
“My son was playing his X-box but he turned the volume down because he heard a lot of screaming over there.
“It must have been about 9.20pm; I was watching Vera on the telly before going into the kitchen.
“It is just unreal – I think ‘God, it could have been my daughter.’"
Jodie is believed to have been a student at nearby Havering Sixth Form College.
Police have stepped up patrols in the area and appealed for help in tracking those responsible down.
Acting Detective Chief Superintendent John Ross, of the Met’s East Area Command Unit, said: “Yesterday a 17-year-old girl lost her life, and I want to express my deepest sympathies to this girl’s family and friends.
"Her death is a tragedy. I can reassure them and the whole community that we are doing everything possible to identify and bring to justice the person or persons responsible.
“It is days like these that really do highlight how we must continue to work tirelessly with our partners and the public to tackle knife crime.
“The victim was fatally stabbed at 9.25pm last night in a park in Harold Hill.
“I am urging any witnesses, anyone who saw anything suspicious or anyone with information about the incident to contact police and share what they know."
She was the capital’s 11th fatal stabbing in 2019 and the fourth teen.
In early January Jaden Moodie, 14, was stabbed in East London. An 18-year-old has been charged with his murder.
Later that month Nedim Bilgim, 17, died in North London. And in February Lajean Richards, 19, was killed in Battersea, South West London.
The murder toll in London last year was the highest in a decade at 135.
On Saturday evening a 17-year-old boy was stabbed to death in a leafy suburb in Manchester.